Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Saturday 22 July 2017

Looking after the carers

One solution for looking after an elderly relative is to apply for the Carer's Allowance.
One solution for looking after an elderly relative is to apply for the Carer's Allowance.

Martin O'Sullivan

Many farm families find themselves faced with the dilemma of how to deal with the care needs of an ageing or disabled relative.

Nursing home care may not be an acceptable option or in some instances an affordable one.

One possible solution may be to apply for the Carer's Allowance and care for the person at home.

If you qualify for a Carer's Allowance you may also qualify for a Free Travel Pass and the Carer's Support Grant and also free gas/electricity allowance if you are living with the person you are caring for.

It is worth noting that Carer's Allowance is not taken into account in the assessment for a medical card.

If you are providing care to more than one person you may be entitled to an additional 50pc of the maximum rate of Carer's Allowance each week.

Eligibility

You must be living with, or in a position to provide full-time care and attention to the person in need of care and there is no upper age limit for the carer.


The person being cared for cannot normally live in an institution but you may continue to be regarded as providing full-time care if the person being cared for is undergoing medical or other treatment in a hospital or other institution for a period not longer than 13 weeks.

You must not be engaged in employment, self-employment, training or education courses outside the home for more than 15 hours a week.

Certain farming spouses may meet this requirement. You must also satisfy a means test.

The person you are caring for must be over the age of 16 and so incapacitated as to require full-time care and attention or be under 16 and getting a Domiciliary Care Allowance.

The person receiving care is regarded as requiring full-time care and attention where he or she is so incapacitated as to require continuous supervision in order to avoid danger to him or herself or requiring continual supervision and frequent assistance throughout the day in connection with normal bodily functions.

They must be so incapacitated as to be likely to require full-time care and attention for a period of at least 12 months.

Means Test

Your means are any income you or your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant have or property, except your home, that could bring in money or provide you with an income. Any payment made by the Department of Social Protection is not taken into account in the means test for Carer's Allowance.

Property which is personally used or enjoyed by a person is assessed on the yearly income derived by that person from it. This includes a farm of land owned or leased, a house partly lived in and partly let and accommodation provided under the terms of a will or deed of transfer.

Means from farming is assessed on the basis of the likely income from the farm in the next 12 months. In most cases the figures for the last 12 months can be used for this purpose.

Assessed means of up to €332.50 of your gross weekly income is not taken into account in the case of a single person or €665 if you are married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting. This amounts to €17,290 per annum in the case of a single person and €34,580 in the case of a couple.

Care Sharing

Two carers who are providing care on a part-time basis in an established pattern can also share a single Carer's Allowance payment and the annual Respite Care Grant. Each carer must be providing care from Monday to Sunday but can do so on alternate weeks.

A carer providing full-time care on a part-time basis is required under legislation to provide this care for a complete week ie, Monday to Sunday. A carer who is providing care on a part-time basis to someone who attends a residential institution, for example, every other week, may also qualify.

Carer's Support Grant

The Carer's Support Grant (formerly called the Respite Care Grant) is automatically paid to people getting Carer's Allowance in June of each year.

You must be caring for the person on a full-time basis and caring for them for at least six months which must include the first Thursday in June. You must be living with the person being cared for or, if not, be contactable by phone or alarm.

You do not qualify if you are working more than 15 hours per week outside the home or if you are taking part in an education or training course for more than 15 hours a week or if you are getting a jobseeker's payment or signing on for jobseeker credits. The rate of grant is €1,700 paid in one sum each year.

Rates

Your payment is made up of a personal rate for yourself and extra amounts for any child dependants.

You may claim a full-rate increase in your payment for a child dependant if you are single, widowed or separated or you may claim a half-rate increase in your payment for a child dependant if you are living with your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant. Carer's Allowance is paid for 12 weeks after the death of the person being cared for. Carer's Allowance is a taxable source of income.

PRSI Credits

PRSI credits may be awarded to recipients of Carer's Allowance where the claimant was employed and paid PRSI contributions prior to receiving Carer's Allowance. If, however, there is a gap of two years in the claimant's insurance record, credits are not valid until at least 26 PRSI contributions have been paid. Carers who have a child under 12 or a person who is so incapacitated as to require full-time care and attention may also benefit under the Homemakers Scheme in that the years spent caring may be disregarded for the purpose of the yearly average contribution test when calculating entitlement to Contributory State Pension at age 66.

Applying

To apply, fill in an application form CR1. The form includes a medical report which must be signed by the person receiving care and completed by his or her doctor.

You can contact your social welfare local office or Citizens Information Service for the form. Payment will be awarded from the date your application is received or from the date the qualifying payment is awarded, if later.

Forward the completed application form with the relevant certificates to the Department of Social Protection, Carer's Allowance Section, Social Welfare Services Office, Government Buildings, Ballinalee Road, Longford.

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